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  #1  
Unread 06-14-2020, 07:50 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Default Rilke, Magnificat

Magnificat
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Up the slope she came, already heavy,
almost without belief in comfort, hope,
or counsel; yet when the matron—pregnant, stately—
proudly and solemnly approached

and knew it all, without her saying so,
suddenly, next to her, she felt at rest;
the two full women cautiously embraced
until the young one said: I feel as though

from now on, dear, forevermore I am.
Into the wealthy, God pours vanity
almost without observing how they gleam,
yet searches for a woman carefully
and fills her up with his most distant time.

That he found me. Just think! And sent his word
from star to star on my account—. Extol

and glorify him mightily, my soul,
as high as you can: the LORD.


Revisons:
S3L1 was "from now on, love, I am eternally." Then it was "eternally from now on, dear, I am."
S5L1 was "and elevate him mightily, my soul," then "and glorify him all you can, my soul,"
S5L2 "LORD" was "Lord"


Magnificat

Sie kam den Hang herauf, schon schwer, fast ohne
an Trost zu glauben, Hoffnung oder Rat;
doch da die hohe tragende Matrone
ihr ernst und stolz entgegentrat

und alles wusste ohne ihr Vertrauen,
da war sie plötzlich an ihr ausgeruht;
vorsichtig hielten sich die vollen Frauen,
bis dass die junge sprach: Mir ist zumut,

als wär ich, Liebe, von nun an für immer.
Gott schüttet in der Reichen Eitelkeit
fast ohne hinzusehen ihren Schimmer;
doch sorgsam sucht er sich ein Frauenzimmer
und füllt sie an mit seiner fernsten Zeit.

Dass er mich fand. Bedenk nur; und Befehle
um meinetwillen gab von Stern zu Stern -.

Verherrliche und hebe, meine Seele,
so hoch du kannst: den HERRN.


Literal translation:
Magnificat

She came up the slope, already heavy, almost without
believing in comfort, hope, or counsel;
yet when the stately, pregnant matron
solemnly and proudly stepped towards her

and knew it all without her confiding,
then suddenly she rested on her;
carefully the full women held one another,
until the young one said: I feel

as if, love, from now on I am forever.
God pours vanity on the wealthy
almost without looking at their gleam;
but he carefully seeks out a woman
and fills her with his most distant time.

That he found me. Just think, and gave
commands for my sake from star to star—.

Glorify and exalt, my soul,
as high as you can: the Lord.

Last edited by Susan McLean; 07-05-2020 at 11:38 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 06-14-2020, 09:05 AM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Nice original. Nice translation. Nice use of rhyme and near rhyme. Nice!
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  #3  
Unread 06-15-2020, 06:44 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Allen, it is good to hear that you think the translation works.

Susan
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  #4  
Unread 06-27-2020, 10:50 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Thanks for this poem. I hadn't seen it before, and I have a soft spot for the subject, since I regard the revolutionary, political nature of the Magnificat as evidence that portrayals of Mary as the epitome of passive submissiveness are mostly propaganda based on gender stereotypes, and deliberately ignoring what the Bible actually says about her. The kind of person who would sing the song in Luke's Gospel is also the kind of practical, no-nonsense, and yet caring person who would later tell her 30-year-old son to stop messing around and take care of the wine shortage at the wedding already. She definitely had some backbone. And the government of Argentina outlawed the Magnificat during the Dirty War because the mothers of the Disappeared were using it to support their outcry against what was going on. Anyway....

Having sung the Latin and English text of the Magnificat so often, I find it interesting how Rilke adapts that song's language for his own purposes--especially the bit about the rich being sent away empty, which is my favorite bit in both Bach's and John Rutter's musical settings of it. And I particularly love the notion that not having to explain much to Elizabeth, because Elizabeth's own situation is not so very different, is such a comfort to Mary.

I wonder if this bit is the best possible way to convey both the electric charge carried by that "I am" (famously, God's name, as told to Moses--or at least how it is usually rendered in English), and the sense of immortality. You have

     ...I feel as though

     from now on, love, I am eternally.

Perhaps a comma after "I am"? Or lose the present tense (and that charge), to focus on the "forever" bit:

     ...I feel as though

     from now on, love, forever I will be.

I think I like what you have better, though, even though "I am eternally" is a bit weird. (Poetry is inherently a bit weird.) I'm just bouncing an idea around.

You might also consider keeping the final word in all caps, since that's a Biblical convention to emphasize when the phrase "the LORD" is not being translated literally, but is substituting for "I am." There's a better explanation here:
https://www.firstorlando.com/stories...he-difference/

I hope something here is helpful, or at least interesting.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 06-27-2020 at 11:06 PM.
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  #5  
Unread 06-28-2020, 02:20 AM
Mary McLean Mary McLean is offline
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Hi Susan,
The same line bothered me as Julie. 'I am eternally' feels like it is missing the end of the sentence, though on second reading it makes sense. Maybe a comma would help, as Julie suggests. But my other problem with the line is hearing love with the British slang overtones of condescension. I don't know whether capitalising as in the original might help? Or it might make it worse. It probably needs a true Brit to comment.
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Unread 06-28-2020, 07:55 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Thanks for the suggestions.

Julie, I have taken your suggestion to emphasize "I am." I originally ended the line "eternally I am," but that sounded too much like Yoda to me. I have more reservations about writing "the LORD." I did not know about that convention of capitalization in the Bible. I suspect that most people don't know about that convention, so I fear that capitalizing the word would distract and puzzle more readers than it would please.

Mary, I had reservations about using "love" as an endearment. It does sound British to me. I have tried switching to "dear."

Susan
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  #7  
Unread 06-28-2020, 08:40 AM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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As often, my contribution is here is at a slight angle to the poem itself, and I’m unsure how it might affect your translation. But I’ve often wondered about whether the focus on certain exact phonetic treatments for the name of God (or others) is true to whatever ultimate reality is, as opposed to what people experience in their limited way in this life in this very special mathematico-physical world. I’m well aware of some of the implications of attention to divine naming, and also the problems that can arise with misuse of names in different societies that are not strongly influenced by the bible. Let me be clear, apart from Ecclesiastes, my favorite parts of the bible are almost all from the new testament (and not quite all of that as usually presented). But what I want to say is that in my ignorance, the “I Am” - to me - at present, best approximates in English to “Being,” without the absolute need for a specific name in another language.

Nice translation.
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  #8  
Unread 06-28-2020, 10:26 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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I didn't like the rhythm of my recent revision, so I have tried a different wording of it.

Thanks, Allen, for your thoughts on the word choice of "I am."

Susan
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  #9  
Unread 06-28-2020, 05:30 PM
Phil Bulman Phil Bulman is offline
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Hi Susan,

I think your revisions are good. Unfortunately, using love can sound slangy to contemporary readers and listeners.

As for the final word, I think LORD would be fine. The all-caps version is common in the Hebrew Bible translated into English, and you see it all over the place in the Psalms. So for many readers it would appear Biblical, in the positive sense.

I like the translation. In the interest of full disclosure, I want to add that I don't know German, and I've never done a translation in my life.

Thanks for posting this.

Phil
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  #10  
Unread 06-28-2020, 06:26 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Philip, okay, your opinion has persuaded me to give the capitalized "LORD" a try. I am glad to hear that the translation reads well to you.

Susan
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